Since I am a sucker for bad shows, I just watched a recent episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore.
But then it struck me. The relationship between Ronnie and Sammi, the show’s token on-again, off-again, melodramatic couple, is a lot like the one between UNM football head coach Mike Locksley and Lobo fans.
Ronnie embodies Locksley. He is big, tough and walks with confidence. He’s a guy you want to root for, but his end results are frustrating. He seems to always find a way to disappoint, but he means well. He has a soft side.
Sammi represents the Lobo fans. She just wants to be treated right. She has trust issues because she’s been let down too many times, and she wants to trust Ronnie/Locksley but hasn’t been shown anything to make her feel otherwise.
Ronnie and Sammi go into this season’s Jersey Shore, which was shot in Italy, are no longer a couple. But a few episodes in, they recapture the love that brought them together in season one.
The journey of their relationship has been a roller-coaster ride and, at times, hard to watch, just like football at UNM.
Lobo fans are still broken after after last year’s 1-11 season, which started off with a 72-0 loss at the hands of Oregon and ended with a 66-17 fist pump to the face from TCU.
When Mike Locksley was introduced as head coach back in December 2008, fans fell in love with the good recruiter from a big-time program in a big-time conference. Just like Sammi did with Ronnie, fans went head over heels and confided in Locksley.
That trust was broken after the football season started with three straight losses and with the report that Locksley had an altercation with then receivers coach J.B. Gerald.
Ronnie, who’s had several altercations of his own, lost Sammi’s trust during season two due to infidelity, which led to their big breakup.
After Locksley’s first season, fans wanted him gone. The coach was getting in trouble, and the athletes weren’t living up to the fans’ expectations; they felt cheated.
When Sammi was told Ronnie was cheating, she wanted him out of her life. But after he apologized and she had time to cool off, she forgave him.
And that’s what Lobo fans did in 2010.
After a disappointing first season under Locksley, the offseason dragged, and hope sprung for the new season. The Lobos held their 2010 home opener against Texas Tech. More than 25,000 fans showed up to watch the game in hopes that this season would be different. It wasn’t.
The same could be said for Ronnie and Sammi. When they got back together after their first breakup they seemed optimistic about their future together. They were determined to make it work, but nothing ever went right for them. Similarly, in 2010, nothing went right for the football fans or for Locksley.
The fans were let down again after the season ended 1-11 and the Lobos, for the second season in a row, lost to rival New Mexico State.
Out of 120 Division I football teams, the Lobos ranked 116th in scoring, 106th in rushing and passing, and dead last in scoring defense and rushing defense.
A little over 18,000 fans showed up for the season’s last home game against Texas Christian University in a stadium that holds well over twice that many seats.
Fans gave up on Locksley, just like Sammi did on Ronnie in the finale of season three.
Everyone thought it was over. Everyone thought there was no way the two could come together again — but they did. Just like Ronnie and Sammi both came back to a fourth Jersey Shore season despite a terrible ending to their relationship the season before, Lobo fans will watch the 2011 regular-season home opener against Colorado State with Locksley on the sidelines.
This season, Ronnie and Sammi are trying to do whatever they can to make it work once again. They both have had time away from each other and want to be together. They’re giving it one more shot.
Lobo fans want to love Locksley. Lobo fans want him to succeed and make football at UNM relevant again.
So I say Lobo fans should give it one more shot as well.
Locksley has key out-of-state transfers: Lamaar Thomas and Deon Long both eligible to play; B.R. Holbrook and Tarean Austin, two healthy quarterbacks; Lucas Reed, a 2011 Mackey Award preseason candidate in tight end; and Bubba Forrest, Carmen Messina and Jaymar Latchison, who offer senior leadership on the defense.
Locksley has also brought in assistant head coach and defensive coordinator George Barlow to rebuild a defense that could stop anybody a year ago. The Lobos open up at home against Colorado State and will play four of their first five games at University Stadium. So maybe, just maybe, after a couple weeks of play, the fans and the football team can fall in love again, just like Ronnie and Sammi.
I know Locksley is doing everything he can to make Lobo fans happy. I just hope the third time is the charm. If Sammi can forgive Ronnie, then you can forgive Locksley.